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First-bird hunters have success on youth hunt

The regular spring wild turkey season opens a half hour before sunrise on Tuesday statewide.

But a few fortunate young hunters got off to a great start at getting their first gobbler during the Spring Youth Hunt last weekend.

Kelsey Lund of Freedom took top honors for first and biggest bird taken during the Youth Hunt weekend. Just 15 minutes after sunrise on opening morning, Kelsey bagged a 21.5-pound bird with a 9 5/8 -inch beard.

Anthony Cottrell, 14, of Lancaster hunted with his uncle, Gary Cottrell of Orchard Park that Saturday opener and took a 20-pounder at 7:30 a.m. Anthony's very first sported a 10.5-inch beard and 1.25-inch spurs.

Twin brothers Michael and Alex Handley, 12, of Marilla hunted near home with dad, Doug Handley the entire weekend. "Michael had a nice tom come in close enough but not in line for a shot Saturday morning," dad said.

Sunday morning began with another round of birds at a distance with little movement. Finally, just before 11 a.m., the eleventh hour for turkey hunting that ends at noon, a hen came into dad's decoys. "The decoys drew three jakes (large year-old, bearded tom turkeys) within range for the boys," dad said.

The procession took about 25 minutes but both boys got off shots and each took a nice jake an hour before the Youth Hunt season ending.

Spring wild turkey season is open daily across New York State during the month of May and hunters can legally pursue birds from a half hour before sunrise until noon each day. Hunters are allowed to take two bearded birds during the spring season, but only harvesting one turkey per day.

Two proposals are in the works to possibly allow the taking of two birds in one day and to allow legal hunting until sunset during the spring turkey-hunting season. Pros and cons on these possible changes will be the subject of a future column.